my blog’s been a little wonky the past few weeks, with technical weird things and no time to figure out why people aren’t getting email posts and formatting’s off. when i was reflecting on this thanksgiving week, this old post from sheloves magazine came to mind, part of the down we go column i write once a month. some of the thoughts originated from a november synchroblog a few years before that called sitting-at-the-rickety-card-table-in-the-family-room-for-thanksgiving-dinner.
this past sunday night was our 8th annual refuge thanksgiving feast together. as we gathered around a room full of big tables in our new space, kids and grownups of all shapes & sizes & experiences, and held hands and shared what we were thankful for it felt like a little taste of heaven–no one at the rickety card table in the other room but all together at the big table, each voice valued and loved. it was so pretty.
i thought i’d share here as part of thanksgiving week. i like thanksgiving because all my family & friends come over for a big dinner, but the truth is i also know so many others who are struggling this holiday and dreading the season. i strongly believe that part of the deep loneliness that sets in around this time has to do with small tables & the damaging disconneectedness it brings. more on the realities of the holidays next week.
meanwhile, i do pray for bigger tables where everyone eats.
enjoy the capital letters and happy thanksgiving week! enjoying my kids home & back next monday.
Big Tables Where Everyone Eats
How many of you have had the experience of having to sit at the rickety card table set up in the overflow space for the special holiday meal? It’s for the people who can’t fit at the “nice table,” like the kids or late-comers to the party. I know some people prefer to sit there, so this metaphor might be a stretch, but when I think about life on the margins and downward mobility, this is an image that often comes to mind. To me, the rickety card table set up during thanksgiving dinner represents getting “the scraps,” a sometimes subtle, sometimes direct message that says, “We’re glad you came, but there’s really no room for you to sit with us.”
In my current life situation, I am not marginalized in many ways. I am married, white and have a graduate school education, health insurance & a host of other privileges. However, we all have our bumpy stories, and when it comes to being a female lead pastor from an evangelical world, I know the feeling of sitting at the card table in the family room while a whole bunch of men are eating at the fancy table. It’s a very inadequate feeling. And while over the past few years I have come to accept its realities and lean on the wonderful love and acceptance I do have (and now, honestly, I’m having way more fun sitting at the card table) it still feels sad to me–the subtle segregation, the power differentials–especially in the kingdom of God.
Many people I know are used to sitting at the card table. They’ve always lived on the margins socioeconomically, practically, spiritually and in all kinds of other ways. They’ve never been invited to the big table, ever. They are used to eating scraps and being satisfied with anything they can get.
In the kingdom of God, the table is supposed to be big,
And I do mean big.
Our tables should have room for everyone–the fringers, the lonely, the doubters, the certain, the poor, the rich, the educated, the uneducated, men, women, gay, straight, black, white, brown, young, old, liberal, conservative and everything in between.
When there’s not enough room at the current one, we’re supposed to get up and find some leaves and pull up as many chairs as we need.
And I don’t think the big fancy one is supposed to be the centerpiece. In fact, I think what’s supposed to happen is everyone who’s been used to the fancy table needs to get up and go sit around the card table and listen to the conversations there. To eat on a plastic plate for a while and use a paper napkin. To listen, learn and find that even though we seem so different, in the end we’re all really longing for the same things–to love and be loved, to give and to receive.
Maybe, over time, what will happen is those two tables–and all the other kinds that seem to segregate and separate us–will somehow be muddled up and combined, chairs shifted around, the china mixed with the plasticware and all the neat and tidy decorations can become not so neat and tidy anymore. We have much to learn about how deep the grooves are in the culture we live in, not just in the world, but also in the church.
Since the beginning of time we have been divided and segregated. Power has been held in the hands of people who have not done well at distributing it. Dignity has been stripped, voices silenced, pain minimized and poverty perpetuated.
The only way out, in my opinion, is through brave and wild steps taken in Jesus’ love–in actions not words–to shift the dynamics of the table and diffuse power in new ways.
This will take humility and courage for all of us. It will take prayer, asking God to show us where we fit into the change.
Do we need to make more room at our tables? Do we need to be the ones to throw new parties with new people who need to begin to know each other despite their differences? Do we need to bravely pull up a chair and participate in conversations we’re not used to having? Do we need to be the ones who scooch the different tables together and start passing out food?
A life of downward mobility means that we can’t keep sitting at fancy tables while our friends are at rickety card tables.
We’ve got to figure out ways to be together, eat together, learn together, laugh together, build the kingdom of God together.
So, that’s my hope as we enter into this season of holidays and feasting: that we’d not just dream about them, but actually work at setting wild, crazy, beautiful, eclectic tables of all shapes and sizes where there’s room for everyone. That the people sitting there are humble, spiritually poor and ready for some really good food–the kind that only tastes good when it’s shared together.
this month’s synchroblog is centered on our faith stories. everyone’s got one. i feel like i tell mine here all of the time, but the truth is that usually it is just little snippets of it,and and there is something about saying out loud–here’s where i was, and here’s where i am now.
everyone’s got a story.
after major faith shifts, they usually are quite the dramas. filled with inspiration & pain & hope & tragedy & broken dreams & bizarro feelings of “how in the $*#^!%&#@! i end up here after all of that?” sometimes i say my life should be called a “dramady”, which is a drama + a comedy combined. follow me around for a day or two, you’d know what i mean.
when i look back on my faith over the past 30+ years, it seems like there are some different chapters, and they all are a mix of drama & comedy (even though sometimes the laughter came later). here they are, decades & decades in 5 chapters:
- the simple innocence years – i was not raised in a christian home, but somehow i got a hold of a bible and started reading the gospel of john when i was in elementary school. i can’t really explain it, but i was just always in to Jesus. like a moth drawn to a flame, i loved the wild and craziness of his interactions with people. i had no words for it, no theological framework, no ecclesiology, just a deep sense that Jesus was someone worth following. somehow i ended up in vacation bible school with a friend and accepted Jesus into my heart, but i still lived in my nutty house with an alcoholic step-father & tons of weird stuff that kept me in a place that’s best described as divided–happy and put-together on the outside & lonely and a mess on the inside. but i thought Jesus was cool.
- the “please God, please God, please God forgive me years” – in high school, my boyfriend’s family were “born again” right before my very eyes. they were on-fire for Jesus and i started going to an evangelical-y community church with rocking music and good preaching. i immediately got sucked into the chuck smith vortex. i liked going, but then i had an abortion, we broke up, and my life, which was already divided, became even more of a disaster on the inside (even though no one could tell). i begged God for forgiveness over and over again for my decision, but never felt it. locked up & tormented is the best way to describe how i felt. the next year, i ended up at pepperdine university on a really good scholarship and became a crazy person, working harder and smarter and graduating in 3 years, determined to prove to God and the world that i was worth something after all. this driven-ness was a recipe for disaster in the evangelical world, because performance is so highly praised.
- the work-my-ass-off-for-God years. my last year of college, i started dating my husband, jose. he had a “go to church no matter what on sundays, even after partying all night” mentality, so i went with him. i was definitely “all in” this time, and gave my whole heart to the churches we began attending after we were married. i studied the bible, went to groups, served like a crazy person, and was a stereotypical good christian woman for a chunk of years. like really good. we were on the evangelical fast-track–fun, cute kids, all-the-right-moves. in a wild turn of events that changed the course of history for me, i ended up in a women’s group when my daughter (who’s now 20) was just born and began for the first time to talk about the real feelings i was struggling with inside. i shared how i was working so hard to desperately try to feel better about myself. it was like the floodgates opened and big things transformed in my faith. i could be more honest about how i actually felt about God, myself, and other people. it was freaky. and freeing.
- the slowly-becoming-more-of-an-outsider years. the 3 years i was in that group in san diego ruined me. once i got a taste of healing and honesty, i could never turn back. after we moved to colorado, i became passionate to infuse honesty into the churches we were part of. the deep resistance to it still surprises me. but i also get it. so much of faith has become about performance–doing the right things, saying the right things, believing the right things. when i started mixing that up, i was no longer the golden girl; i was more like the “uh oh, here-she-goes-again-talking-about-feelings-girl.” i began to not fit in, to become an outsider, to be in groups where i wanted to stand up and scream. i began making little covert groups that were talking about real things & real life & real faith struggles; they were usually under the radar because they weren’t acceptable in the mainstream. i started meeting more people on the fringes, who are far more likely to be honest.
- the uh-oh-it’s-all-tumbling-down years. after a hard and painful experience on a mega church staff, my faith was completely rocked. being that mistreated by powerful Christians when i was seeing lives radically changed through the recovery ministry i was part of about did me in. i began to wonder why i in the #*@^!^ i gave myself to this system to begin with. i had already been taking some jenga pieces out of my faith, but the whole tower began to tumble and i began deconstructing everything i once believed. spiritual vertigo is the best word for it, and i let myself be angry for the first time in my life. i tried to walk away from Jesus, i really did. i came from a family that was very open to other world religions, and i looked again “is there something in there i am missing, maybe there’s something better over there.” and while i highly value different faiths, i just couldn’t shake Jesus. not the Jesus of Christianity as a religion but the Jesus in the gospels who turns the world on its head and helps us understand that what makes sense, doesn’t, and what doesn’t make sense is the better way. his path of love & hope & honesty & mercy & justice & equality & freedom just felt like one i needed to keep walking on even when other christians would tell me i wasn’t quite one anymore.
- the nut-case-for-healing-community years. yeah, that’s the one i am in now. over the years, i have come to realize that i have lost beliefs, not faith. they sometimes get tangled up. as i shed theological doctrine that didn’t really do me much good anyway, i found that what’s left is enough, and over time a much free-er, wilder, weirder faith has been resurrected. i am sometimes in a double-bind because those in my old christian circles think i’m off the deep end, and those who have deconstructed everything think i’m deluded to still be part of “church.” i keep trying to own my own story and truth and maintain my integrity, and all i can say is–God does some pretty wild and amazing things through healing community. seeing dignity restored is enough for me.
this is a much longer blog post than i had hoped, but it’s hard to summarize 30 years in 1,000 words. it was kind of a fun exercise, re-considering this dramedy called faith, and i’m thankful for each movement in its own way.
i am guessing you’ve got some pretty interesting chapters, too. i wonder what you’d call them?
other bloggers sharing their faith stories this month:
i am coming upon my 10 year anniversary in full-time vocational ministry. january 1st of 2004 i went on a big church staff as the associate care pastor; the following year i became the adult ministry pastor, and then the year after that i lost my job after a big ugly bru-haha related to power & politics & inequality that would make your stomach turn. since then, i have been co-pastoring our wild and beautiful little faith community, the refuge, alongside my friends & brothers & sisters. i had no idea when i entered vocational ministry how jacked up the system was. i was naive. i was passionate about healing & transformation in people’s lives through community. i was happy in my own little world.
until i began to see the realities of the system i was in. like all male elders. women doing announcements but never teaching. all the male pastors going to play golf together and never getting invited. talk about “pastors’ wives” but never “pastors’ husbands” having it be completely okay for me to preach regularly to male addicts in recovery ministry but “real church” was somehow unbiblical.
when we left to plant the refuge, things within our own community were pretty easy related to equality for women. we really didn’t talk about it a whole lot inside the refuge. we just did it. i attribute that to my friend and teammate karl, who sacrificed a lot on behalf of a better way.
however, on the outside, in the wider church system, it’s always been a different story.
there have been too many weird moments to count, but the lowlights include my book not being able to be sold by the #1 christian retailer because i am a female lead pastor, being disinvited to speak at a baccalaureate once the conservative evangelical contingent discovered a woman pastor was coming, demeaning comments, sexist remarks, not being able to perform a memorial service in a church because of my gender, and speaking at a conference where the introduction was “okay, now let’s bring up the women” after a long line of male speakers.
it’s so hard to explain what it feels like. shamed is a good starting place, but it’s more than that.
it’s confusion, too. a weird mixed message. we want you…but only when it works for us.
each and every time one of these things have happened i have asked myself “why am i still here?” ”why bother?” ”why stay in a system that does this to half the population?” “it’s a lost cause. patriarchy is so deep, it’s never going to change.”
patriarchy is deep, insidious, ugly, and extremely pervasive in the world. the biggest travesty is that it is pervasive in the church of Jesus Christ, which i always say should be the free-est-most-inclusive-most-wild-and-diverse group of people in town.
but patriarchy won’t shift unless we keep working against it.
and the most strength over time is going to come from the margins. however, power never goes down easy.
there’s a lot of bru-ha-ha over why women would even want to be part of conferences where patriarchy is so obviously embedded. it’s tough, but if we’re going to get to a new place, we sometimes have to walk this crappy, ugly road to get there. it’s a dilemma. i don’t do that many outside gigs, but i know sometimes i am probably only invited to fill a female slot. and that sometimes sucks. some experiences have really hurt my heart, but i have this deep sense that the only way to get to something new is to suffer the realities along the way.
if i were only paying the price for me, it wouldn’t be worth it. i have so many beautiful things in my life, a wonderful community, and plenty of satisfying & challenging work in my own little world. the last thing i need is the brain damage of sexism when it comes to some of these imbalanced events & groups-that-are-so-stacked-with-boys-that-it-makes-me-nutty.
but it’s not just about me.
it’s about my sisters & friends & daughters & dear-women-around-the-world-who-need-someone-to-break-chains-on-their-behalf.
and it’s also about my brothers who are trying to learn a better way.
some will never get there; their theology will never support equality for women. however, i know far more men who want something different but are so used to the way it’s always been that they don’t even realize how hurtful they are being. most men aren’t friends with women and we all know we usually just play with our friends.
that doesn’t let them off the hook; it’s time for them wake up, break out of denial, and practice a better way.
women are on the hook, too. we are going to have to slog through some of this mess for a while. it doesn’t mean we’re supposed to be quiet and toe the line. we are supposed to call out the injustice and tell our stories so people will see. calling that disunity is an abuse tactic to keep people quiet.
but we are also going to have to keep coming to play. i’ll admit, after a few wing-dingers, i don’t want to. i am re-thinking some things for sure, but i know this–the road to equality is bumpy, and the very best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.
that’s why we need to support each other as sisters & brothers & advocates for change.
it’s why we need to look at the groups we are part of and ask ‘who’s missing and how do we invite them to the table?’
it’s why we need to give the microphone to people who have never had it before and learn from unheard voices.
it’s why we need to naturally model equality instead of just talk about equality.
it’s why we need to learn how to be friends, men & women alongside each other as equals in true healthy intimate relationship with each other.
it’s why we need to reconsider giving our money to organizations & events & churches that dismiss equality and remember we are a powerful economic influence, not to be dismissed.
it’s why we need to vote with our feet and leave systems that perpetuate injustice over and over again and never try to change.
most of all, it’s why we need God to move in a mighty way to heal hearts that have been broken & restore dignity that’s been lost & call people to cultivating equality here and now in tangible ways.
some days i have more hope than others.today, i will say my hope supplies are a bit depleted. but i am going to borrow some from my friends who are bravely speaking out and risking their pride and scorning shame and calling out the craziness and reminding me that the road to equality is bumpy. it’s ugly. it’s going to hurt.
some days it’s going to make us want to stand on tables & scream.
God, show us what it means to be a reflection of you. what we’ve created sure isn’t.
this past friday i spoke at a large gathering here in denver called simply jesus. i was only there for the first part because of kids’ football games, but i did get to see NT wright in the lobby! it was also a bonus gift to get to meet kelley nikondeha, a sister from shelovesmagazine & kindred spirit & d.l. mayfield, who has a really awesome series on her blog centered on downward mobility.
the contrast to my unplugged life at the refuge was wild (and microphones sometimes don’t work properly at big churches, either) but i enjoyed meeting some wonderful, interesting people & sharing a glimpse of the refuge community & a topic i am passionate about: Jesus is a dignity restorer & that means we are called to be, too.
4 years ago now i wrote a post called dignity restorers for the 8th letter project as part of rachel held evans’synchroblog. it was a chance for people to write a letter to the north american church. oh my, did i ever let it rip! what i shared on friday is not directly based on this post, but it is tied up in it. i really do believe we are called to be dignity restorers in a world that’s lost a lot of it.
here’s a sort-of slice from friday:
embedded into every human being is the image of God; it’s in our original DNA. this image is our basic dignity & value & worth. it is the one thing we all have in common (the next-in-lines are pain and a desire to love & be loved). when the fall of man happened in genesis 3, this image was not extinguished. instead, i believe it got covered up by a bunch of rubble.
shame, brokenness, control, loneliness, addictions, depression, illness, poverty, oppression, and a host of other human afflictions often bury our dignity.
but it’s an eternal flame, in every person, no matter what shape or size or color or experience. nothing can kill it off completely.
God’s work in our lives is to call out our dignity.
that’s one of the reasons i love Jesus. when i read the gospels, he was the ultimate dignity-restorer. he broke through all kinds of barriers and restored people’s dignity over and over again. to me, that’s what healing & transformation is–a breaking down of the rubble so God’s image & beauty can emerge.
restored dignity won’t drop out of the sky. people aren’t going to wake up one day with the rubble magically cleared.
we need some serious tangible help & healing.
it reminds me of the story of lazarus in john 11; when Jesus calls lazarus back to life. he calls him out of the tomb, but then he looks to the people around him–his community & friends & advocates–and says “unbind him.” unwrap him. i’ll add: help shovel out the rubble so life can emerge.
i think God calls us to participate in this uncovering-unwrapping-unbinding-digging out process with each other.
and it takes a long time. (a heckuva lot longer than the instantaneous miracles we see Jesus perform in the bible–that’s my big Jesus gripe, more on that later).
i can honestly say if i hadn’t entered into healing community 20 years ago and still put my butt in the chair week after week after week even when it’s the last thing i want to do, i would still be completely buried underneath the rubble. and after all these years, there’s still more of God’s image buried, waiting to be uncovered.
there’s a lot of buried dignity out there in our own lives, in this broken world.
i didn’t have time to read this small portion of my 8th letter to the church on friday, but i thought i’d share it here:
Jesus restored dignity to people who had lost it. the sick, the lame, the broken, the desperate, the outcasts, the marginalized, the least, the last. over and over, he healed them, lifted their head, and touched them with hope. hope that the kingdom of God was available now and it wasn’t only for the learned, the put-together, the well, the powerful. it was available for all those who were humble enough to admit their spiritual poverty & need for God.
the world does not need any more dignity-strippers. they’ve got enough of that going on without the church’s help.
what the world needs are dignity-restorers.
- people who are willing to call out God’s image in those that don’t know it’s there.
- people who are willing to sacrifice their own jobs, time, heart, and money to change systems that keep others oppressed.
- people who use their own power & privilege to make space for those without it.
- people who are willing to give a rip about that one person who everyone else has given up on.
- people who see beyond gender, politics, religion, socioeconomics, and all of the other things that divide and segregate us and engage in deep & meaningful relationships anyway.
- people willing to go the long haul and offer compassion & love to the hurting instead of trite advice & easy spiritual answers.
- people who will stand between the stone throwers & the one about to be stoned and advocate on their behalf.
- people who touch the untouchable.
- people who see the best in others instead of the worst.
yeah, this world sure does. and that’s my hope & prayer for us as individuals, as people of God.
i have no doubt if all our resource & hands & hearts & eyes & ears & buildings & power & influence & hope could really be channeled to restoring dignity in person after person, the image of God uncovered in his people, shining brighter and brighter, would dim the darkness of this world like never before.
may that be so.
ps: i’ve also got a post up at sheloves magazine this week for the monthly down we go column. november’s theme is margins. it’s called truth from the margins, i wrote it a month ago but it really folds into restored dignity and God’s image more fully reflected. i believe with all my heart that the future of the church, the world, lies in the margins.
yesterday my lovely and gifted blog friend sarah bessey’s new book was released. it’s called Jesus feminist, and i hope that you will buy a copy and let the beauty of her words sink into deep places into your heart and practice.
obviously, she is singing a song that is music to my ears.
i haven’t counted the posts i’ve written about it, but i know there have been a lot.
the battle for equality is far from won, but we are making progress.
more and more women are stepping into who they were created to be, and more and more men are realizing how much we’ve missed without women’s voices and are intentionally making room at the table. stained glass ceilings are breaking. men & women are partnering and collaborating. advocates for justice around the world are emerging. passion for the tangible kingdom of God here, now, is erupting all over the place. it’s so pretty to see.
i want to celebrate it.
at the same time, it’s important to not forget–we still have a long way to go. deeply engrained into our psyche and culture and practices is a tilt against not only women but all kinds of shapes and sizes of people without power.
patriarchy is strong, and it will not go down easy.
and the only way to change the course of history is to change the course of history.
but this won’t happen sitting in our houses thinking about changing it.
it will happen when we start to step into who we were created to be.
when we listen to the call in our hearts to lead, to serve, to love, to advocate, to create, to nurture. it looks different for each of us, but if we listen down deep, we each have a call, a passion, a deep desire, a dream no matter how big or small.
when we move that call into action and have to stand in disapproval from others who think we are unbiblical, prideful, rebellious, or silly.
when we resist the pull of shame and use our voices anyway.
when we ask our church leaders to reconsider their positions and find new church homes when they refuse to let women fully lead as equals, not just workers.
when we stand alongside each other as women in solidarity and support. when we encourage and pray and love and honor one another, using any power we each have to support another sister stepping into hers.
when we call on the safe men in leadership and in our lives and remind them that we need their help, their influence, their support.
when we embrace our giftedness and passions and find spaces and places to use them.
when we partner with other men & women working alongside each other as friends and teammates and equal partners in kingdom collaborating.
when we advocate for women’s equality as a natural part of our lives to pave the way for the mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends coming behind us.
Jesus was a feminist. he advocated for women. he restored the dignity of women. he rocked the boat on behalf of women. he stood against the powers that be on behalf of God’s daughters.
equality is a core kingdom value. and it’s a verb.
like so many other things, we have jacked it up with our human desire to control and power-up, and the consequences are grave. horrid things are happening to women around the world, and this is why we can’t just stand by and let the power of patriarachy keep us silent.
their freedom is tied up in our freedom.
we can’t stand by while 50% of the population is underneath another.
there’s just no way that could have ever been Jesus’ big idea.
the way to change the course of history is to change the course of history–one life at a time, one family at a time, one group at a time, one organization at a time, one church at a time.
i see it everywhere i look, small pockets of freedom, women stepping into who they were meant to be. it’s so beautiful, but trust me–after a few stories i heard just this week–the grooves run deep and we are in desperate need of God’s healing and restoration for the brokenness we’ve created.
and the best way to get there is to say out loud with our words, our actions, our lives–in small ways and in big ways–that equality matters.
and in the words of sarah bessey, my prayer is that we’d be among the “hopeful men and women who love, and who are part of the redemptive movement of God in the world.”
“my soul is dry and thirsts for you, true God, as a deer thirsts for water.” – psalm 42:1, the voice
one of the things i hear a lot when i am talking to my friends who have shifted in their faith is how much we miss God/Jesus sometimes. it’s an interesting mix. some people miss church and some people have never looked back. some are fine with a distance from God and need some space to get their heads and heart a little more together after a lot of church-craziness, while others feel the deep loneliness that sometimes comes along with changes in how we do our relationship with God. what used to work doesn’t.
and so for some of us, there’s this weird feeling of “missing God.”
we long to feel some of the connection that used to come more freely. we need some inspiration that fuels our empty tanks. we’re lonely. we need to feel extra peace and hope and joy in a deep place in our heart that comes from that wild & mysterious whisper called God. we’re tired of spending energy on all kinds of distractions and just want to feel God again.
in our bones.
in our heart.
in our souls.
this formation friday i have no easy answers for that. sorry. so many of my old tricks don’t work, either, and gone are the days when i could quickly conjure up some kind of discipline that would help me get the big fat shot in the arm i needed.
i get to experience God in all kinds of crazy wild ways each week at the refuge; so many little reminders of God-at-work-through-people. and while i am thankful for that, i was thinking this week how despite seeing God in all kinds of ways, i miss him for myself all the time. i’m so busy sometimes focusing on what’s “out there” for other people and for my family that i neglect the thing that’s deep inside my heart that i need to keep going–my longing for God just for me.
so the other morning as i ran out of the house in my pajamas and flip flops in the freezing cold to pick up a gallon of milk at the local gas station because my children had empty bowls of dry cereal desperately waiting for me, this thought flashed across my brain: ”i really miss God today.”
and then this was my next thought, no kidding. ”and damn, i don’t want to miss God. i like being fine without him.”
here’s why: i hate being vulnerable. as much as i know it’s holy and the key to so much transformation, i sometimes really don’t like the reality of needing anyone, including God.
my default is to get by on my own.
and as much as i am so grateful for the shifts in my faith because they have led me to such a free-er place in my life and relationship with God, i do miss some of what used to come so easily in my former days–that inspiration that was so tangible, so real, so sustaining, so accessible.
as i came home and fed my starving children i began thinking about what i would do in a friendship that changes, where disconnection happens, where life takes us over, or where crazy stuff happens that makes us not be able to connect like we used to. the way out in good friendships starts with these four simple words: “i really miss you.”
then the next thing that i would do with my friends is “let’s figure out how to get together; it’s just too hard to go another week without seeing each other.” and then in certain relationships, it depends which, i sometimes have to live with that initial awkwardness where we try to reconnect & catch up after an absence.
often, it’s far easier to do that with a flesh-and-blood friend than it is with God but i think it’s a starting place.
God, i really miss you. what’s a way we can get together? i’m prepared to feel awkward at first.
is it a hike, writing in my journal, painting a picture, writing a poem, sitting in the silence, reading a psalm, pouring out our heart in prayer, offering one word in prayer, walking a labyrinth, listening to beautiful music, staring at the sunset, putting our toes in the sand, drinking a cup of coffee at the kitchen table, meditating on a verse or a phrase or something that brings hope, weeding in the garden, sitting in the park, lighting a candle.
there are so many other possibilities, no matter how big or small, but i didn’t add “hanging out with a friend, caring for a person, giving, loving, or meeting a person eye to eye” for a reason. i think it’s so incredibly important and for me, that is by far the primary way that i connect with God–in the rub of relationship with human beings.
but i sometimes think it’s incomplete, too, and we have to also develop another pathway to refresh our souls with God that is something in the quiet, in the stillness, in the aloneness with God.
that’s my challenge for myself this week.
it’s not for everyone. some of you are feeling good with God and don’t miss him a bit. others aren’t feeling so good with God but “miss” isn’t quite the word. for those who connect with this idea of “missing God” i wonder if we can just start with this:
1. i miss you
2. how can we get together?
3. for that little sliver of time, open our hearts up to hear, receive, engage, listen, notice, appreciate.
and if nothing happens in that moment, which it might not, maybe look for another random weird moment it does. God can be sneaky like that.
have a great weekend. love, kathy